Featured Published Manuscript of the Month:      March, 2019

 Chosen and summarized by:  Allison Stuppy-Sullivan, Yale University

 Gray, N. S., Weidacker, K., & Snowden, R. J. (2019). Psychopathy and impulsivity: The relationship of psychopathy to different aspects of UPPS-P impulsivity. Psychiatry research272, 474-482.

Corresponding Author:  R.J. Snowden ([email protected]), Cardiff University

 This featured study investigated the relationship between psychopathy and impulsivity in two samples, one with male psychiatric inpatients and another with male inmates. Psychopathy was measured using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in the psychiatric inpatient sample and the Psychopathy Checklist-Screening Version (PCL:SV) in the inmate sample.  Impulsivity was measured using the five subscales of the UPPS-P (Lack of Premeditation, Lack of Perseverance, Sensation Seeking, Negative Urgency, and Positive Urgency).  Although prior studies examined the relationship between psychopathy and UPPS-P subscales in community samples, no previous study examined relationships between PCL-R factors and facets and UPPS-P subscales in forensic psychiatric or criminal samples.


 A few key findings were:


·          There was no relationship between psychopathy and UPPS-P subscales when considering psychopathy as a  unitary construct.


·          Higher Factor 1 scores (interpersonal and affective traits) were associated with lower Lack of Premeditation scores, lower Lack of Perseverance scores, and lower Negative Urgency scores. These Factor 1 results were largely driven by Interpersonal facet scores.


·          Higher Factor 2 scores (lifestyle and antisocial traits) were associated with higher Lack of Premeditation scores, higher Lack of Perseverance scores, higher Negative Urgency scores, and higher Positive Urgency scores.  These Factor 2 results were largely driven by Lifestyle facet scores.


Some key implications:


·          Whereas Factor 1 scores were associated with reduced impulsivity, Factor 2 scores were associated with greater impulsivity.


·          When considering, trait impulsivity, this study highlights the importance of parsing psychopathy based on Factors (e.g., Factor 1 versus Factor 2). 


·          This study also highlights the importance of studying complex constructs, such as impulsivity, with specificity. 


Future directions


·          Future studies may benefit from examining the relationship between impulsivity and psychopathy using experimental paradigms as well as self-report measures.


·          Continuing to clarify what is meant by “impulsivity” in the context of psychopathy is important for refining our conceptualization of the various expressions of psychopathic behavior.